Much like human babies, newborn kittens are completely helpless. If you’re taking care of infant kittens because their mama isn’t around, not only do you need to bottle-feed them, you’ll also need to stimulate their hind end after they eat so they can go to the bathroom. All you’ll need to help out your tiny fur balls is a rag and some warm water.
The Role of the Queen
The queen, or fertile mother cat, is usually the one who ensures that each of her babies goes potty. After every feeding, she licks each kitten’s rear end to stimulate his bladder and bowels. The gentle licking motion gets their waste organs moving, allowing urine and stools to come out. During this time, kittens start developing bladder and bowel control and figuring out when they need to “go.”
What You Need to Do
If mama kitty is sick or not taking care of her litter, you need to step in and take over. You’ll have to mimic the licking sensation by rubbing each kitten with a warm wet cloth between the hind legs after each meal. Massage each fuzzball for several seconds or until he goes potty.
What to Expect
Not all kittens relieve themselves after you stimulate them. Some kittens have sporadic bowel movements throughout the day or even skip a day once in a while. This is all completely normal. As long as each fluffy kitty is continuing to grow, eating every time you offer a bottle and urinating, they are developing right on target.
Newborn kittens need help with waste elimination until they are able to use the litter box all on their own. Usually by 5 to 6 weeks of age, kittens get the “urge” and no longer need stimulating to relive themselves, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. However, each fur ball develops at a different rate, so if you see one using the litter box by 4 weeks of age, don’t assume they’re all able to do it that early. Pay attention to each feline and continue to stimulate the ones who aren’t using the litter pan yet.
You don’t want to rub the kittens too hard or you could cause some irritation on their skin. If you see some redness or fur loss on the areas you’ve been massaging, call your veterinarian and ask him what you should do. He may suggest an over-the-counter supplement or prescribe a cream to lessen the irritation. Lastly, if any of the kitties go for more than a couple days without having a bowel movement, notify your veterinarian immediately. It could be a warning sign of poor development or some kind of blockage.